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E36 track build checklist

Discussion in 'DIY (Do-It-Yourself)' started by KCuv, Nov 4, 2015.

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    Wasn't totally sure where to put this thread - but I will be DIY'ing my own track car.

    I'm not new to BMWs, or wrenching on them, but I've never built anything for track duty.

    As I spend the next few months planning a budget, I was looking for input on things I'm forgetting.

    The plan is the right smoking deal on an E36 coupe - either 325is(w/LSD) or M3
    that will essentially be only for autox & track days, and just steetable enough to get it to an event.

    Once car is acquired, gone through, normal essential maintenance sorted through to have a solid starting base - I hear the cooling systems are ticking time bombs - in that case I would probably just put a better radiator/hoses in immediately.
    what are the essentials I need? I want to keep this relatively inexpensive...

    Current plan -
    Gut interior
    Tires/Lighter wheels (everyone seems to run kosei K1s?)
    Braided stainless brake lines & Better Pads/Rotors

    What else am I forgetting?
    Do most guys put in beefier control arms or sway bars?

    Thanks for your help!
    Look forward to experienced feedback!
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    Looks like you are missing BEER and MONEY from your list. ;) The old adage goes something like how do you make a small fortune in racing, start with a large fortune.
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    It sounds like a great project.

    There are some knowledgeable and experienced folks on this forum who can give you all sorts of advice but you might want to look at old existing forum resources too. There are countless previous forum threads for your help and planning, here and on BimmerForums. Take a walk through the old posts and then follow up here with more specific questions. It can save you money, frustrations, sweat, etc.

    A couple of quickies - after checking/replacing/upgrading all the usuals in the suspension, sub-frame, cooling, steering and the like, your ideas about brakes are good. The OEM brake rotors are pretty good even if you track it a little. IMO braided stainless lines are a good/cheap/easy investment. There are many good pads out there. We've been happy with Porterfield R4-S pads for dual duty. Be sure to upgrade to high temp brake fluid. Standard fluid can boil quickly on the track. We've been using GS610 for several years with very good track/street results. ATE and others offer excellent high temp brake fluid too.

    Over the past several years there have been a number of forum threads about track wheels and there are a Lot of good choices out there. You mentioned Kosei ... certainly a well known choice but, not without controversy. There are many threads mentioning failures of the K1s and offering worthy alternatives. Check them out.

    Whatever you budget, don't be surprised when you bust it. It happens but, a little thing you haven't yet mentioned ... FUN ... have some along the way. :)
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    steven s

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    I'd do an aluminum radiator/overflow and Stewart-Warner water pump before coil-overs and rotors.
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    Yeah, I had two E36's suffer the standard rad.-neck failure in front of me at two different track events year before last, then the Porsche GT3 typical coolant fitting failure, again next car behind - 3 different track events, one deep off-track excursion, each one had me thinkin' these people are tryin' to kill me!

    One thought before you go launchin' in on this build plan - another racer adage is it's always cheaper to buy someone else's racecar than build your own - you might do a little searching on bring-a-trailer, Grassroots Motorsports ads, BMW CCA classifieds, autotrader, ebay, autotempest.com, scca, etc, you might find something that sounds expensive, but if you start to realistically price your build project, you might find is more reasonable than at first glance. On the flip side, working on a car, you get to know its specifics better.

    Aaaand.... if you're also at the beginning of the learning curve for track driving and haven't done any 'CCA driver's schools/hpde's, you'd be much better off as far as learning & progressing to not hit the track with a hard-core track car. Might sound like less fun, but, starting with a more-stock car that's more forgiving means more margin for error, and a better opportunity to maximize your on-track learning, and thus the value of the money spent for the track time. When beginning, there's so much to learn, it's typically several events at a minimum before becoming capable of taking advantage of a good bit of a stock BMW's performance capability, stock suspension, brakes, tires, and all.

    Along those lines, if more-dedicated track car is the idea, then it can be a longer-term plan - initial focus then should be reliability & safety, which is taking care of needed maintenance & common-sense upgrades (brakes, for instance). E36 M3 in particular, beefier motor & trans mounts are an excellent idea, towards avoiding the disastrous "money shift". Brakes - stainless lines, & pads (I like Performance Friction), & high-temp brake fluid (as mentioned; I like Motul); also, air ducting for brake cooling is a big help - the ideal is brake ducting that directs air right into the center of the rotors, but that typically requires replacing a wheel bearing as the new ducting typically replaces the stock backing plate (again, a bit much right at the get-go). And, as mentioned, you're not the first to pursue the idea, lots of additional info out there, and any number of us can offer up additional thoughts or answer specific questions.

    We always welcome future track junkies into the fold! ;)
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    lots of good info guys! thanks for your input/feedback.

    my biggest obstacle right now is that winter is coming and my lady wants to park in the garage along with my 535i. So theres really not any room to get to work until the snow goes.
    It might be a blessing in disguise though, giving me more months to really search for the right car, instead of buying the first not-rusty MT 325is i see for $1500 (which i'm often tempted to do!)

    along the same lines - let me get your opinion here on car choice..
    I'm all for starting with the best car you can afford...
    assuming the car I find is a MT coupe, no rust, no major issues etc, its going to need maintenance work regardless...and its going to need brakes/suspension work/etc/etc...
    Is it necessarily worth spending ...~6500ish for a high mileage M3 vs...~2500ish for a nonM car?

    I'm torn on initial investment, because I could probably take a nonM and have a LOT of fun with it with all of the exact same mods I would do to an M car for under 5-7k total...or get an M3 and be closer to 10k...at the end of the day once both are built, the only main diff would be hp, right? which I'm not too concerned with
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    +1 on Bring a Trailer. If you have not been there it has a mix of vehicles. They have an on-line auction site now in addition to being an accumulator of on-line adds from various sources. There are some track cars from time to time and some of the comments are enlightening. I am amazed how some of the commentators can look at the photos and point out discrepancies between the photos and descriptions. Just don't go there if you have work to do, it will suck you in for hours. Not that I would ever go there during work hours.
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    ^^^ yea I hear you. I've never spent like 2 hours at work browsing through vintage porsche 911s that i couldn't afford. never done that.

    while you're there might as well check out rarecarsforsale.com if you need to waste an hour.
    Ken.S.330 likes this.

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